Although Singapore Airlines' superjumbos remain grounded, the carrier is steadily working away at its program to ensure all A380s boast the latest first class suites and business class seats once they return to the skies.
One of those older A380s in the original or 'classic' configuration today made the 3½ hour trip from a dedicated aircraft storage facility in Alice Springs – where it's been keeping company with jets from SQ, Cathay Pacific and other airlines – to Sydney.
A spokesman for Singapore Airlines confirmed to Executive Traveller that "one of our Airbus A380 aircraft, that was stored in Alice Springs, has begun its planned returned to Singapore ahead of a schedule retro-fitting and maintenance program."
The superjumbo will "undergo routine checks following its storage, before returning to Singapore where it will be retro-fitted as part of our plan to have all 12 remaining A380 in our fleet fitted with the latest A380 cabin product."
On the older aircraft, this will see the 12 first class suites located on the lower deck, which made their debut from 2007 when Singapore Airlines was the global launch customer for the double-decker behemoth...
... swapped out for six almost double-sized suites at the front of the upper deck.
(At the nose of the lower deck, the space previously assigned to those 12 suites will be given over to some 44 premium economy seats.)
Likewise, the original bench-like A380 business class seats will make way for SQ's newer design.
This allows couples in the paired middle seats to slide down a divider and share more of the travel experience, with the option to convert the 'front-row' business class seats at rows rows 11, 91 and 96 into a double bed.
This dozen-strong downsized fleet will comprise of the five latest A380s delivered factory-fresh with the new suites and seats designs starting late 2017, alongside seven A380s which previously flew with the first generation fit-out, while over a third of the A380 fleet has being sent into premature retirement.
Singapore Airlines' intent is that as demand for global travel rebuilds, the A380s will begin soaring once more.
"We do not have any plans at this stage to return any of our A380 aircraft into commercial service," the airline spokesman said, "however we continue to monitor travel demand closely and remain nimble to ensure the right aircraft can be deployed to the appropriate route as required."
SQ's superjumbo replacement
At the same time, Singapore Airlines is looking ahead to the last days of the A380, having ordered 31 of the Boeing 777-9 jetliner to serve as its eventual superjumbo replacement.
Although delivery of the 777-9s has now been delayed until at least 2024, when it does arrive it'll herald the launch of new first class suites and business class seats.
The airline has already showcased its proposed Boeing 777-9 seating to a number of stakeholders and top-tier frequent flyers who signed non-disclosure agreement.
The Star Alliance member's current Boeing 777 first and business class were launched in 2013, which means they'll be over a decade old by the time the 777-9 versions hit the stage.
Sliding privacy doors have been suggested as a key feature of Singapore Airlines' new Boeing 777-9 first class suites, which CEO Goh has previously promised "will be a first class that we believe when we launch (it) will again set industry standards."
Goh has also talked up Singapore Airlines' Boeing 777-9 business class, saying a "quantum leap" is in store.